2017 – WEB DESIGN // UX // WORDPRESS DEVELOPMENT
What is IAESTE?
The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) is an independent, non-profit, student run exchange organisation. It provides students in technical degrees with paid, course-related, training abroad. With over 80 member countries and exchanging over 4000 job offers each year worldwide, it is the largest organisation of its kind in the world.
Involvement and history
When I went on an electrical engineering internship in Macedonia through the help of IAESTE I amazed by how strong the community was worldwide. Upon arriving back in Melbourne, I became a member of the local committee that was in a stage of rebuilding. My first first role was representative of the University of Melbourne in which I ran information sessions and social events for the local students and the foreign interns. I began to realise that our online presence, especially our main entry point, the website, was hurting our brand and the livelihood of the Australian arm of IAESTE.
The website content was outdated, it was difficult to navigate to the most important information and the template that was used didn’t offer enough flexibility in style. The monthly website visits decreased below 50% of what they were 2 years ago. Most visitors hit the home page and left. The home page was not offering enough information.
I led a team to design a new website that used a simple structure and clear content to appeal to our target audience of students and Australian technical companies.
Who were the intended audiences of the website?
There are several key personas that are coming to our webpage and the information they need is uniquely different. There are also some notable ways those audiences might find their way there, and this context should be considered when designing the content of the website.
- Who are looking to do an internship overseas
- Help out the committee and meet like minded individuals and foreign interns
- Employers – who are wanting to be a part of the global association and get quality interns from around the world. Often they have been directed to the website by someone from IAESTE. They want to trust us quickly so possibly a professional looking website and instant information.
- Alumni – to stay connected with the group. The current website had no space catered to this audience, this was going to be added.
The main navigation should reflect the reasons people are visiting. And only one level, because there was no need to complicate. This would make the journey for our visitors effortless. And the homepage would summarise each section of the website so the user has more guidance of where to head next.
User needs and flow analysis
The main actions for users once they had browsed the information available was to either apply or contact us. So:
- a large contact us call to action was added at the bottom of every page
- Apply had its own section that outlined a step-by-step process
- And if they wanted to find out about recent news or upcoming events, the socials were easily accessible.
Design and development
Professional yet homemade. The website caters to potential employers, so it had to show users that we were a serious organisation and had a clear process, whilst at the same time being a social student-run organisation.
I wanted to use a CMS like wordpress so that the website could be maintained by a content manager without a knowledge of html and css, and there were a load of plugins that would benefit us greatly. Instead of using a wordpress template, I used bootstrap to build a simple template that did just what we needed.
Trimming the content
To fit into a simpler architecture, a lot of the content needed to be cut. Only essential information.
Also if we weren’t going to maintain news content, that had to be cut. It gave the impression that the association was dead if the last post was 2 years ago.
Since each page was still heavy on the content, relevant icons (from icomoon!) were added to lists and images of happy students and employers were spread throughout the content.
Users were viewing more pages on the website and applications for internships were up the following season. More importantly, the Australian community is now much larger and more active, and I believe that enhancing the website, the digital entry point for the world of IAESTE Australia, has helped this.
With limited time and resources, there was a lot more I wanted to do with this project that I didn’t get to fulfil. Here were my recommendations to the team, however a lot of them don’t solely rely on the website but the actual manpower of the organisation.
- Show upcoming events on the website
- Apply through the website instead of email applications
- Generally more interaction possible on the website rather than a landing page.